All About Performance
I must be going a little silly as I get old. I could have sworn that my old Core i7-950 Nehalem architecture was a quad- core. I honestly didn’t know it was an early single- core legacy processor. I also didn’t know that most games from six or seven years ago needed two to four high- powered cores to get the job done, but single- core was the king! Let’s see: It seemed like we had quad- cores, but most games couldn’t take advantage of those extra cores, due to not being encoded for the extra cores. Honest, I am so confused now that I think everything I’ve read in MaximumPC for several years must be a lie, and I’ve learned nothing by being a long-time subscriber. Maybe should get my info from another source…. – Rick Ulbrich EXECUTIVE EDITOR ALAN DEXTER RESPONDS: The article in question, “Optimize Your Upgrades,” was actually pointing out that the single- core performance that Intel enjoys today can be traced back to architecture used by that venerable chip, not that it only had one core. We haven’t had serious single- core processors on desktops since the Pentium 4, and even that had Hyper-Threading. Since the original Nehalem, Intel has refined and tweaked this architecture, but its DNA hasn’t shifted significantly.
As for gaming, developers are bound by the install base to only make the best out of what most people have, not what’s necessarily available—we may have 16- and 18- core processors available, but no developer is going to produce a game that is optimized for such a chip, as the vast majority of gamers still only have quadcore chips at best (according to the most recent Steam survey, over 90 percent of the market has quad- core or less, with 30 percent still rumbling along with dualcore silicon). Don’t worry, we haven’t been lying to you, just trying to keep you on your toes.
Thank you for the article on bottlenecks. I downloaded the two programs that you had recommended (HWMonitor and Unigine Superposition), and discovered what the bottlenecks were in my system. The results were no surprise, as my machine is almost six years old, but has been upgraded over the years probably as far as one can. However, it was interesting to see how well a system as old as mine was performing. I can play CoD WWII at 40fps, so I’m happy. I’ve attached a screengrab of my GPU benchmark results to this email. – Scott Cortese EXECUTIVE EDITOR ALAN DEXTER RESPONDS: Glad to hear you found the article enjoyable and useful, and that you can play the game you want at smooth frame rates. This is one of the reasons we love PCs so much—you can keep upgrading them to get a machine that is still relevant years after its creation.
Do You Vape?
What’s with the vaporware you guys keep reviewing? I was looking for an ITX board for my Ryzen 5 processor. You reviewed the Asus ROG Strix X370- I Gaming. Nope, nobody has it. Then you reviewed the MSI B350i AC. Again, nowhere to be found. Can I get one of the boards you reviewed? They seem to be the only ones in existence. Can you guys tell manufacturers to confirm they are actually going to sell the boards they send you before you put out a review?
– Joey Martinez EXECUTIVE EDITOR ALAN DEXTER RESPONDS: We have no interest in reviewing vaporware, but that isn’t what’s happening here, as the products in question do exist, they just appear to be rather popular, and as such, have sold out at a lot of places. Even so, at the time of checking, a look at the “Where to buy” section of the official Asus US website shows that B&H has stock (while Micro Center and Walmart have sold out). As for the MSI motherboard, it does indeed appear to have sold out everywhere— even the “Where to buy” links all point to a lack of stock (at least, the several we tried did). Even so, when we get hardware in for review, we always make sure that it is available to buy, otherwise there wouldn’t be any point looking at it. Of course, what we don’t know is how many of a particular motherboard are made available to the
market, or what the take- up will be.
I thoroughly enjoyed the “Builder’s Bible” article in your April issue, especially the prep work that needs to go into a build, which I haven’t seen in similar articles. There are two things I want to comment on, though. (1) Regarding your suggestion about buying one or two pieces of hardware per month, instead of going all- out in one go— buyers need to be aware of the vendor’s return policy. You don’t want to run into a situation where you buy items over a multi- month period, and then six or seven months later, for example, go to build the system only to find that a piece of hardware is defective or dead, and you can’t return it, because it’s way past the vendor’s return policy time frame. (2) I worked parttime on a “Build Your Own Personal Computer” course at a community college (first as a volunteer lab assistant, and then a co- instructor) for a number of years. The students purchased the parts to build a computer, and myself and other lab assistants and the two instructors would assist them. There was more than one occasion when a student purchased a new, wellknown brand-name part from a reputable vendor, only to find out that it was DOA when we went to fire up the system. Usually it was memory, but we had a couple of motherboards that were also DOA.
Instead of installing everything in the chassis before the system is fired up, we would place the motherboard on a piece of plywood large enough to accommodate a full- size ATX motherboard, and install the CPU, cooler, and memory. Then, we’d connect a PSU, ATX power switch, video card (if needed), monitor, keyboard, and system speaker (if needed) to the motherboard, and fire it up.
Sometimes, when a system wouldn’t go through POST, reseating the RAM or CPU, or resetting the BIOS took care of the problem. However, as I previously mentioned, there were also a few occasions when a part was DOA. Yes, I know things are not properly grounded this way, as they would be in a chassis, but we ran the system only long enough to make sure that the BIOS properly recognized the CPU and memory, and that the CPU temp did not increase drastically and beyond acceptable limits. Not all students purchased chassis with lots of working room inside. It’s easier to reseat a CPU, RAM, or cooler outside of the chassis than it is inside of one. This is true especially if the power and data cables have also been connected to all of the components.
– Michael Craddock EXECUTIVE EDITOR ALAN DEXTER RESPONDS: Cheers for your feedback, and your own personal tips for system building. Your first point is valid, and it’s worth bearing in mind— although don’t forget that you can return components to the manufacturer even if you’re outside of the reseller’s warranty. As for the second point: We have different preferences on the team, and some of us (including myself) always build outside the case first, to ensure the core components work, while others are happy to save any nasty surprises until further down the line.
A Call for Simplicity
I am a fan of your magazine, even though I have no idea of what you’re talking about more than half the time. Yes, that sounds crazy, but I enjoy reading about the computer/ IT technology, and you and your staff do an excellent job of presenting that information. However, I must ask: Is there a publication for those like me who wish to read to be acquainted with computers, but on the most elementary level, so we too can become advanced consumers, like the ones your magazine is geared toward?
This would be my dream machine for gaming and productivity combined: Case Cheapest full tower available. Motherboard X99. CPU The lowest cost, able to take advantage of the motherboard’s capabilities. Memory Cheapest, minimum, with all slots occupied. GPU One board, but if needed, two (see CPU). Storage Three SSDs.
OS dedicated, with enough room to accomplish update functions
Productivity software, such as Microsoft Office.
Entertainment, partition for games, music, and so on. Data storage HDD— 4x 500GB, or 2x 1TB. Is this too much or too little? Cooling Lowest- cost CPU water cooler. PSU Minimum needed for the build, plus the necessary percentage over. OS Microsoft Windows 10.
What would be the cost of this system, at minimum?
Note: I have two older motherboards (EVGA nForce 680i LT SLI) and another one, that I have been trying to restore, so I can understand how to configure the system the way I want it, see above; no progress. –Willie Gary EXECUTIVE EDITOR ALAN DEXTER RESPONDS: We’ve got an in- depth, blow- byblow build planned for later in the year that should be right up your street. As for your particular build, we’re a bit confused why you’ve specced up an expensive yet out- of- date motherboard (most high- end builds have moved to X299/AMD X399), but we’ll cover all of this in the forthcoming feature.